This may not come to you as a surprise, but according to Pro Football Focus, no defense in the league has dropped more potential interceptions this season than have the Pittsburgh Steelers. Based on their research, they conclude that Steelers defenders have dropped 13 passes this year that could have been intercepted, which is at least one more than any other team.
How the league fares on dropped INTs pic.twitter.com/VoGGKyQQnh
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) December 21, 2018
In fact, there were only three other teams with double-digit dropped interceptions. The Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals both had 12, while the Kansas City Chiefs had 10. Everybody else had nine or fewer. There were four teams with nine, but the Los Angeles Rams had as few as three dropped interceptions.
This is pretty damning and actually something that we have already talked about just recently. Alex Kozora compiled what can probably be best described as a blooper reel of Steelers defenders coming close to but failing to secure interceptions. Written prior to Sunday’s game, he had them at 10 drops, which was probably being a tad generous.
Pittsburgh entered its last game against the New England Patriots with just six interceptions on the season, no player having more than one. Their last interception—and the only one in the six games leading up to Sunday—was the pick six that Vince Williams had early against the Carolina Panthers several weeks ago.
Of course the defense finally broke the long oh-fer when cornerback Joe Haden was able to take advantage of a poorly thrown ball under pressure by Tom Brady in the middle of the fourth quarter inside the red zone. The veteran went up and highpointed the ball between two offensive targets, getting his feet down inbounds.
The fact that the Steelers needed such a Herculean effort just to get one measly interception kind of says something about the immense difficulty with which they have had in creating turnovers, which is somewhat perplexing considering they had 16 interceptions just last season, which was among the post in the NFL.
And it’s not like they lost that personnel—well, except for Ryan Shazier, admittedly a huge loss, who had three interceptions. But Sean Davis had three as well, and he has none now. Mike Hilton had two, and the only interception he had gotten this year was a gift off of a tipped pass.
11 different players intercepted a pass for the Steelers this season. They have had just six players take a pass from the opposing team this year for a grand total of seven interceptions. But as PFF points out, that’s largely because they have been failing to take advantage of their opportunities—more than any other team. I’ll note that even the Falcons and Bengals both have 11 interceptions this year, and the Chiefs have 13.